Swampland

Due to a surfeit of workman and their corresponding transport, His Lordship picked me up today from the National Trust car park a mile or so from the Mantle’s Mansion   This rough old patch has breath-taking views along the rugged Exmoor coast and across to Wales.   A camper van was the only other vehicle in the area.  “What a view to wake up to!” I said to LM “Shall we pretend we are having an illicit meeting?” “OK” and he gave me a big bear hug.  “I was thinking of pretending we were international jewel thieves” I said, “Oh” he said as he helped me put my tools into the back of his brand-new motor.

On the way to the house we pulled in to wait for a cautious woman to inch her way past us in her nice shiny 4 x 4, determined not to get any mud on it.  Whilst patiently waiting, I pushed a button on my door.  By a stroke of luck this opened the window, meaning I could take a photo of swampland beyond.

Six on Saturday – The Moment

August: ready or not here we come!  Soon there will talk of cool nights and shortening days, but let us not wish our lives away.  There is plenty of time left to fret about watering and dead heading and whether we have fed our tomatoes enough or are the slugs and snails attacking whilst I take five minutes to read The Garden magazine, was that an aphid I saw, should I have staked the delphiniums, and such like.  As the Six on Saturday rules stipulate, and you know me I like to follow any rules to the letter, the following photos represent what is happening in my garden right now, unless you are watching on demand when the moment may well have passed, or on crystal ball when it is possibly yet to happen.  Pop on over to our very own Grand Magician to catch up with other SoSers from across the known universe, enchanted by his evil spell, trapped in his web of deceit.  Sorry, I may have got a little carried away.  I love him really.

First we have what I like to call The Giant Mutant Orange Tomato.  It is the spawn of The Giant Mutant Fasciated Tomato Flower.   Soon we will dissect it to reveal its alien innards.

Already inspired by Jim’s post last week and further prompted by trays of sempervivum appearing at our local Lidl awaiting to be mistreated by uncaring employees, any resistance on my part was futile.   There was no doubt that it was a sign from the horticultural gods, and who am I, a mere mortal, to defy them. In order to doubly placate them, I bought two packs, just in case someone else I know would like some.  Spread the love and all that nonsense.  However I have decided that I am not going to tell anyone that I have them so I can keep them all.   Perhaps inspired by the horticultural demons.  But I have grit, I have compost, now all I have to do is plant them artistically.  Which is where it might all go astray.

I discovered something new today, and it is another name change.  This time it is our beloved hedge bindweed.  I may be late to the party, but apparently Convolvulus sepium is now Calystegia sepium.  Who would have thought it?  I was trying to photograph a bee feasting on the honeysuckle and as my camera swung in an attempt to capture it, horror of horrors it nipped into a bindweed flower.  A weed in my garden.  Unthinkable!

Kniphofia ‘Tawny King’ is planted in a position possibly a little too shady for optimum flowering, but in spite of that it is making a sterling effort.  Not terribly “tawny” at the moment, perhaps it will darken as it matures.

I bought plugs of this Begonia ‘Glowing Embers’ months ago, the idea being that I grew them on and then passed them on to one of my clients.  They staggered along, one foot in the compost bin, for weeks, not good enough for anyone else.  I planted them in the barrel in the front garden and left them to it.  “Sink or swim” I told them, and they have eventually decided upon breast stroke.  I would have preferred front crawl.

Finally we have Grewia occidentalis, the African Starbush.  This beauty is not frost tolerant so will join the queue for preferential treatment come winter.  As we are not thinking about that just yet, living in the moment, we can just enjoy the fabulous flowers, of which there are many to come.

All done, until next time!

Missed Again

Whilst weeding at Max’s I glanced across the border and the Ligularia dentata ‘Desdemona’ caught my eye, radiant, backlit by the sun.  I rushed to capture this ethereal moment.  I missed.  This more earth bound shot will have to do.

Six on Saturday – Right Place/Wrong Place

After my week’s respite from Sixing I am feeling energised and inspired.  Not really.  I thought that if I typed that it would become the truth, but no, it didn’t work.  The week has been draining, but on the whole great fun.  No doubt some of you will also have had to endure/enjoy above average temperatures that inevitably wilts us Brits and suffer the relentless horseflies that pursue gardeners for sport.   Still I will do my best for you and most especially for The Most Worshipful and Esteemed Propagator who never shirks his responsibilities and is relentless in his pursuit of the perfect Six on Saturday.  Let us begin.

First, we have Leucanthemum ‘Engelina’, a shasta daisy.  Unfortunately, the Head Gardener (me) thought it would grow a little taller than it has and its beauty is hidden by a more vigorous salvia in front.  It doesn’t seem to have done it any harm, we can live with a little leaf nibblage.   For the meantime I will excuse this error by considering it a lovely surprise to come across when rummaging around in the border.

Next a eucomis, full name unknown.  It was a bit of a surprise when it appeared.   I don’t remember ever acquiring one, by fair or foul means.  It seems to have made itself at home all by itself.  No complaints though, I am always open to those kind of unexpected events.

Onto Nemesia ‘Myrtille’, bought during my bargain bin extravaganza a few weeks ago.  It, and its scarlet mate, are filling spaces in my Belfast sink planter in the front garden.   Someone (yes, I’m looking at you Mr Mollusc) decimated my gorgeous red bedding verbena, which I believe are now called glandularia.  I know, sounds like a tropical disease.  The culprit has never been found although the case is not yet closed.  The ver… glandularia are now in a safe place, we are keeping their exact location secret for security reasons.

Last year I bought Lycianthes rantonnetii as a mere stripling, but before the season was out it had shot up to 2m.  In the spring it was moved to a more appropriate place.  It didn’t turn a hair and is now flowering beautifully and growing splendidly.   Result.  If only life was always so simple.

Earlier in the week Mrs Bun asked me to chop the lavender outside the Garden Room.  As it was headed for the compost heap I offered to take it off her hands.  At the moment it is drying outside in the sunshine.   Sometimes you have to be in the right place at the right time.

When I visited Marwood Hill Gardens a couple of weeks ago, the wonderful Malcolm gifted me this Impatiens arguta ‘Alba’.  Yesterday I noticed that it had started to flower.  Fabulous.  A wonderful present.

That is it, all done.  Until next time!

To All the Plants I’ve Loved Before

When I saw this flower today and questioned Mrs Bun about it, she said “Not a clue, it must have come from a freebie packet of seeds but can’t remember which.”  But I knew it.  I knew I had grown it.  I knew I had loved it.  But I couldn’t for the life of me remember what it was called.  A cosmos flower with different foliage to the usual Cosmos bipinnatus   – the likes of ‘Purity’ and the Sonata series.  And it niggled me.  Whilst methodically dead heading lavender I was all the while thinking “I know it, I know I know it” trying to access the part of my brain that stores such information.  But nothing.  I admitted defeat, I googling “orange cosmos” and hey presto there it was, Cosmos sulphureus. Of course, of course!  So simple.  But when you’ve admired so many plants, there will be occasions that one of your old loves slip your mind.   It can only get worse.

Mad Dogs and Englishwomen

It has been a challenging day for a few reasons:

a)  I’ve hurt my back.  I am in official denial about this in the hope that if we don’t mention it again it might disappear as quickly as it appeared;

b)  after exhaustive avoidance tactics I was bitten on the ankle by a horsefly and stung in various places by nettles;

c)  it was so hot I threw in the towel at 2.30 and headed for a cold shower.

In order to present a balanced review of the day’s proceedings I should also mention the following:

a)  Vanilla;

b)  Chocolate with Ferrero Rocher;

c)  Eton Mess;

all homemade by the extremely talented Biddi.  It helped.